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Sunday, May 26, 2019


So, were you asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? Bet ya were. I'll also bet that most never saw what was coming either. Neither did I. It took me 50 years to "grow up." A person and a remarkable bit of computer code made it all possible.

There is a saying that many sport coaches share with their teams when trying to motivate them to a higher standard of performance.

There is no "I" in Team.

The obvious meaning that the letter i is not included in the spelling of the word team.

But the broader meaning implied is that one person's skills and accomplishments cannot accomplish nearly as much as an entire team or group of people. That a group of like-minded people can accomplish more than the individual, regardless of how talented or skilled one individual may be. As a younger man, I found that phrase inspirational. As an older man, I see the fallacy of that phrase...riddled with philosophical bullet holes and shallow of meaning in some cases.

That's not to say it's a completely false statement. In the military, the organization and skill of a team is paramount. Not only in accomplishing a given mission, but in keeping you alive or uninjured. In the most harrowing of predicaments, the guy on the right and left of you hold your life in their hands. So yeah, There may be no "I" in team, but never diminish the efforts and accomplishments of one individual. (S)he is capable of shaping history.

It was 4th period in Mr. Kittenger's class. Social studies has been my favorite subject throughout
school. This 7th grade class wasn't much different than most. Primarily kids from farm and ranch households, they were more interested in, well anything other than social studies. I suppose I was the odd guy out.

"Social studies" as an educational class covered a lot of area. In my class, it primarily focused on the impact or influence of groups of people upon society throughout history. That could range from the negotiation of a few beads and baubles (allegedly) traded for what is now greater Manhattan to the nation-wide protests of the Vietnam War and the group dynamics involved between the protesters and those tasked with keeping said protesters under control. I was fascinated with these dynamics, even down to the micro level activity.

Mr. Kittenger's discussion of a particular group that day wasn't what caught my attention. It was the mention of a person, almost in passing; that captured my interest. That interest morphed into obsession and that obsession planted a thought into my mind that would reawaken decades later. I wrote it down, memorized it, and retained it my entire life. At roughly 10:50 on a Thursday morning during early spring in the small farming town of Villa Grove, Illinois, Don Kittenger introduced me to Nikola Tesla.

"If we want to reduce poverty and misery, if we want to give to every deserving individual what is needed for a safe existence of an intelligent being, we want to provide more machinery, more power. Power is our mainstay, the primary source of our many-sided energies."

To this day, when I dwell upon that quote from Tesla, it's not Nicola Tesla who comes to mind. It's Don Kittenger. A simple school teacher with a wife, two kids a 1967 Rivera and a love for history and wild mushroom hunting.

And yeah, that thought didn't occur to me for another 15 years. Who knew?

But my point is this. That nondescript school teacher supplanted Tesla in my mind's eye. He became my Lodestar when it came to shaping my ideas about life and how it can and should be made better. Unfortunately my life's journey didn't allow me to put into practice those words so deeply imbedded into me.

Until they did.

Decades later, sitting in a wheelchair with my head and neck screwed into a halo device, those words with all their implications and possibilities came flying back into my consciousness, slamming together into a coherent, logical pathway that I could walk. A simple question from my 12 year old daughter crystalised the idea based on those words I had memorized so long ago:

"If we want to reduce poverty and misery, if we want to give to every deserving individual what is needed for a safe existence of an intelligent being..."

It was in that fleeting moment that the basic idea for Reglue was born. The idea to empower those whose financial disability cordoned off their ability to share in the tsunami of technology that was bearing down upon us. It only made sense, and if I could have wrest my way out of that chair at that moment, I would have begun immediately.

And eventually I did. So yea me! Right? No. Not at all.

From the universe's perspective all I have done accounts for nothing more than a random neutron speeding through the ether. But to those hundreds of kids served by Reglue, maybe, just maybe I was Mr. Kittenger.

Every young person I encounter during an install, I tell them that someone their age will be the first person to walk on Mars, to cure diabetes, to ensure sustainable energy is the only source of energy used. I tell them how important STEM education is to them and how they can one day make a difference.

So when it all comes down to it. All I want to do, all I want to be is a simple school teacher that implants an idea into a young person's consciousness. And I think if we take our own personal inventory, that's probably the most important thing we can do, regardless of method. There are a lot of things I have been in my life, but the one thing that I want to be more than anything...

is a Lodestar.

I just wish Mr. Kissinger was still around. I'd like to tell him about everything he inspired.

So how did you get started with your career in Linux or computer technology in general? I'm conducting an informal survey and your comments would be greatly appreciated.

All-Righty Then.....

My thanks to for the use of the top graphic in this article


  1. I had to search on Wikipedia what is a Lodestar (english is not my main language).
    Now that I know, I have to agree with you :)

    1. Ricardo, I lived in germany on and off for 8 years and it never ceased to surprise me that Europeans, for the most part; all spoke at least two languages...English being one of them. It just reminded me how elitist some of Americans can be. Thank you for this post.

  2. Devastating car accident left me jobless, with no memory. Had to relearn my trade, and Linux was free. So, I specialized. 🙂

  3. I started with Unix at UT - they let everyone have VAX and Unix accounts. I dabbled for years- Red Hat, Suse. Then committed when I got a virus 15 years ago and didn't want to pay the Microsoft tax.

  4. Hi,
    I received an old computer from a friend who had gotten a newer one and it came loaded with Linux. I was not much into computers at all. Actually I hated them XD
    After a while I got the hang of using one and while out job I saw an add for an IT tech with high level of English (this is in Spain) and Linux knowledge. I calle. Did the interview and I was told that it was a 2 week job to cover for a sick person in a big international oil company. I said what the hell. 2 weeks but I will get paid.
    In the end I stayed working for that company for 11 yrs and was in charge of maintaining teh RedHat OS servers.
    Now I am looking for a job again as the projects have been stopped and thought it was time to start looking and work for another industry.

  5. Once I started using computers, it become somewhat of an obsession. I kept experimenting, hacking, breaking, fixing, re-installing.. When Windows XP came along I figured that WGA, activation and activation checking was going to limit my ability to play, so I looked for an alternative. :-)

  6. At the University I worked at in 2008, the economy was tanking...everything was tanking! We had to cut budgets and even give some money back. Departments didn't have money to purchase new software. One faculty trying to create graphics needed to make images for a book they were publishing. With all the cutbacks and frustration from the faculty being restricted to only a few computers in a student lab, they wanted an alternative to the proprietary, expensive software. My research led me to Inkscape, the Open Source vector graphics program. The faculty was happy with it and was able to do their work and go to publication with Free and Open Source Software. This got me looking into what other things could I leverage that was Free and Open Source, which got me to jump back into Linux. Through all the Linux and Open Source communities sharing culture and helping me out, not only is it what I've been using for the past 10 years, but it is all I advocate for and teach with. Here is a video explaining some of this:

  7. Cold called a company looking for a summer job. whoever it was I spoke to said their environment was Unix. Spent some time looking around on the Internet and learning what Unix was and found Linux.

  8. Hi Ken,

    So my linux journey is an odd way, hard to say exactly where it truly began, I'd heard of linux long before I'm going to start the story here, but I was 25, had just moved from Australia to the UK with my wife and infant son. We needed work, and I there was nothing around the aligned with my degree. However, I had been running an architectural visualization business before we left Australia in which I used Softimage XSI. Which I was so enthusiastic about as to be moderator on a community forum, XSI Base.

    From my time there, I was aware that most every visual effects house once that hit mid size or higher used linux. From my experience with Softimage XSI and programming, I knew where additional value could be added. Things people couldn't do that would be useful.

    So I put these things together and decided I had to write plugins and shaders to do these things and release them. These had to be cross platform, so that I'd have a shot at getting work at the linux VFX houses. Though, I also knew myself. If I dual booted, I'd constantly be booting back into my familiar Windows for "just this one thing". So, I took our only laptop and wiped it. Because I wanted to learn linux as part of this, I chose Gentoo, and this was back in the days before Gentoo had an installer. So I had to learn to bootstrap the machine from nothing, compile every piece of the operating system, and get it up and running - and that was just to start the work of making these shaders.

    Well, we'll shortcut the story here - I got it done, I released the shaders, went to the pub where VFX folks hung out in London back in the day, and introduced myself and had drinks with people until somebody hired me. Within a couple of years I was setting up a new VFX facility's infrastructure on Gentoo from scratch. Maybe not a traditional path, but if there's one thing I see in Linux users - they're problem solvers.

    So I'd encourage everyone to go for it - you don't need anyone's permission, you can solve your own problems and make your own path.


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